...Kirk has his epiphany that what he just went through on planet 892-IV with its own Ceasar and Christ echoes the religious persecution our own human ancestors experienced. I think that is the big take-away from Bread and Circuses, with Capt. Merik's folly and the slave love of Kirk/Drusilla added in for good measure.
In this interpretation, "us" being the persecuted Christians, our visiting heroes not only do nothing to help "us," but don't even recognize who "we" are till the denouement? What a dull story that was. Even with the jokes about television.
No, there is a reason there is aMericus on the platform watching the games. (Yes, that is a typographical assist, not a typo.) Formally, the climax is when aMericus sees the light and denies the temptations of empire, even at the cost of his own life. And the jokes about television are a humorous way of identifying their world and the contemporary US. I'm pretty sure everyone making Star Trek identified the guy threatening a special (live torture) if the ratings went down with someone they dealt with in mundane life!
...There were religious motivations to the Crusades, to be certain, but no real tenet or article of Christian faith commanded the invasions of the Holy Land....The Inquisition did not come about from any genuine Biblical imperative.... Scientific models are changing all the time, so it's not like it would be "anti-science" to refrain from putting all of your faith into any of those models. Noting that science has no application to the unobservable or the incalculable is not resistance, it's actually like Chapter 1 in our grade-school science texts, called "The Scientific Method"....
It is an increasingly accepted misconception that atheism is the lack of religion. Lack of religion is irreligion. A • the • ism is not only an ism, but distilled to its purely dissected form, literally means a belief in no god (i.e., a = no • the = god • ism = belief in). It is still a system of beliefs, faith-based, just like any other religion.
I do not accept that an anonymous internet poster has the divine authority to assure us as to the nonChristianity of the Crusades and the Inquisition. It is to be sure part of atheism to deny that religion has any magisterium, a task reserved to reason. The positive content of atheism is philosophical materialism. However, since the facts uncovered by science do not change, philosophical materialism is an evidence-based belief system, not a faith. It should not be surprising that textbooks present these matters in such fashion as to foster confusion to the benefit of religion. This is sort of off topic.
Christianity in Bread and Circuses is presented almost purely as pacifist, with one stray comment about freedom and brotherhood. None of this is historically accurate. Gibbon popularized the thesis that Christian pacifism undermined the imperial will of the Romans but it doesn't really hold up. A secondary theme, the burdens on the state of Christian episcopacy and privileges (free mail service sticks in my mind for some odd reason?) is a little stronger. In the Sixties everyone was well aware that true Christianity was not pacifist and only cultists like the Quakers or Mennonites held to it.
I don't see the culture of the Empire depicted in the episode as representing the culture of the American viewing audience, despite the inclusion of automobiles and "smog." The dissidents opposing the Empire, people seeking their freedom and the growth of the "Son of God" Religion, would more likely be the culture that was to have been representing America.
See the epistle to Philemon. See the church names of the time, such as Southern Baptist Convention or Southern Methodist Church and reflect on their origins. The historical claim that Christianity is about freedom comes from a time when "Christianity" was defined in opposition to Roman Catholicism, the Antichrist. Star Trek wasn't interested enough in religion to tackle the issue of Roman Christianity.
If that seems atheistical, so be it.
....Kirk is in fact a Christian, who embraces that growth comes no other way but through "The Struggle."
Hardship is normal for the Christian life, it's how we improve ourselves.
And we have another anonymous internet poster speaking ex cathedra
. I'll kiss your ring when Your Holiness pokes it through my monitor.